WALLER — Since Week 1, Franklin has yelled “164” after each post game huddle, representing the miles it takes to get to AT&T Stadium for the state championship game.
The Lions continued the tradition Thursday night after taking the first step to the Dallas Cowboys’ home in Arlington by beating Van Vleck 58-19 at Waller ISD Stadium in Class 3A Division II bi-district play.
“Five more weeks to go,” senior running back Seth Spiller said. “One game at a time. That’s all we have to focus on.”
Franklin will face the winner of Friday’s game between Natalia (6-3) and Hebbronville (4-2) in next week’s area playoffs.
Franklin scored seven touchdowns in the first half, including three by Bobby Washington.
The Lions took the lead on their opening possession, driving 67 yards in seven plays with Bryson Washington scoring on a 7-yard run with 9:25 left in the first quarter.
Van Vleck answered with its only touchdown in the first quarter when quarterback Payton Brown ran it in from 2 yards just two plays after finding a big hole on a 61-yard run.
Less than a minute later, Bobby Washington scored on a 1-yard run. And Franklin didn’t let up with Malcolm Murphy scoring on a 20-yard run and Marcus Wade throwing a 53-yard bullet to Hayden Helton for another touchdown in the first quarter.
“I lean on all those backs, but nothing can really happen without those awesome offensive linemen,” Franklin head coach Mark Fannin said. “Those offensive linemen don’t get credit all the time, but those guys out there are in the trenches and they get after it after every single play.”
Franklin outscored Van Vleck 21-12 in the second quarter, stopping both of the Leopards’ two-point conversion attempts. The only time Van Vleck passed the 50-yard line was on its touchdown drives.
Franklin scored nine seconds into the second quarter after Devyn Hidrogo flipped over a defender into the end zone on a 9-yard TD run. The Lions scored two more times with TD runs of 11 and 48 yards by Bobby Washington.
Van Vleck’s Sam Bree broke multiple tackles and hurdled a defender on his way to a 38-yard TD run, and Brown added a 1-yard TD run as Franklin led 49-19 at halftime.
“It felt great,” Fannin said of Franklin’s halftime lead. “I always preach to these guys about coming out from the first whistle and you have to play from the first whistle, and they came out and did it tonight.”
In a mostly quiet second half, Franklin scored on its first possession on an 11-play, 62-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Spiller with 5:11 left in the third quarter. Franklin also scored on a 25-yard field goal by Seth Shamblin early in the fourth quarter.
Franklin’s second-string players finished the fourth quarter, keeping the score intact.
Fannin said the Lions will enjoy the win but will start preparing for the area round on Saturday.
“We’ve got to get ready to play. They’re both good, pretty solid teams,” Fannin said.
NOTES — Bryson Washington left the game holding his left ankle following a 26-yard run just two plays before Bobby Washington’s 11-yard touchdown run in the second half. Bryson Washington didn’t return to the game but watched from the sideline on crutches. Fannin said he thinks Bryson Washington will be ready for the area playoff game. “We were just trying to be safe [by keeping him out],” Fannin said.